Before the Pirate Bride

The Pirate Bride / Before the Pirate Bride

Rachel sat in the lobby of the Los Bahamas Paradise Resort & Hotel, updating her status on her favorite web page.  Her mother stood at the check-in desk and was asking a hotel employee about local shopping, specifically about bathing suits.

Rachel’s phone beeped, telling her that her message had been sent.

My Friend Place Update Page


Soon-to-be-Surfer Girl (Rachel), age 13

Soon-to-be-Surfer Girl (Rachel) Wants You To Know — Just finished checking into the hotel.  The C & C Monster attacked my swimsuit.  Don’t ask.  Gots to buy a new one!

–Updated 30 seconds  ago

Soon-to-be-Surfer Girl (Rachel) Wants You To Know — Flight was long and bumpy.  Anyone want to guess how many barf bags a 7 year-old can fill up in one flight?

–Updated 5 minutes ago


LadyMaddy – Really? Reggie puked? LOL! You remember my guess, it was two.

She folded her phone in half and placed it into her purse as her mother returned from the help desk.

“Honey, you weren’t using your phone, were you?” her mom asked.

“I was just updating my status,” Rachel answered.

“Rachel, we are in another country, and the phone company charges us extra money for international…oh,” she said with frustration in her voice.  “We’ve been over this.  No phone in the Bahamas.  Hand it over.”  She put her hand out, and Rachel grunted, but still slipped her hand into her purse, took out the phone, and surrendered it to her mother.

“You are going to pay us back for that charge when we get home,” her mom said, putting Rachel’s phone into her own purse.

“But Mom,” Rachel protested.  “This trip is already worse than I thought it would be.  A ruined bathing suit and four barf bags!  Reggie filled up four bags on the airplane!  That has to be a record, so of course I needed to let Maddie and Tay know about it.”

“Of course,” her mom replied.  “But couldn’t it have waited until we returned home?”

“No.  We had a bet,” Rachel said.

“You were betting on how many barf bags your brother would use?”

“Yup.  After the ski trip barf-a-thon, I figured we would have a repeat, and I was right.  Maddie said that someone would use two.  Tay said three.”

“And how many did you guess?” Mom asked.


“That seems like a lot,” her mom said.

“Well, I thought that more than one of the boys would be blowing chunks.  They surprised me by keeping their breakfasts down.”

“All right, that’s enough of that.  You’re talking too loudly about rude things and we’re in public.”  Her mom looked around the lobby, scanning for anyone that would be offended by the topic.  Seeing no one, she continued.  “Reggie is feeling better, we’ve checked into the hotel, and now we can focus on getting you a new swim suit.”

She reached into her purse and pulled out Rachel’s old swimsuit.  Both of the shoulder straps on the suit were torn apart.

This was not an old swim suit.  Rachel had just purchased it a few weeks before the vacation.  She had spent three days looking for just the right one.  Of course it had to fit right, but also it had to be neon blue and pink (Rachel’s criteria), and it had to be a one-piece (Mom’s criteria).

Rachel had kept it safe in her dresser drawer while she waited for the trip to arrive.  Every few days, she would take it out, put it on, and jump up and down on her bed, using her imagination and the large mirror over her dresser to picture what she would look like at her very first surfing lesson!

Afterwards, she would take it off and carefully store it again, but upon arriving in the Bahamas, something terrible had happened to it.  Two somethings, actually: Rachel’s youngest brothers, Carson and Connor; twins, aged 5 years-old.

Traveling with her family was never easy, but a week long trip to a Caribbean Island was almost like planning for a journey to the moon.   Two suitcases per person in a 7 member family plus carry-on luggage with books, video games and snacks equaled a three-tent circus in the airport, a carnival in the taxi (two taxis, actually), and a parade through the hotel.  It just so happened that this particular hotel did not have any luggage carts or an elevator, so once the family arrived at Los Bahamas Paradise Resort & Hotel, her mom had to assign everyone jobs.

Rachel’s job was to give Reggie a bath while Mom helped Dad haul the luggage up to the room from the lobby.  Aaron, age 12, and Steven, age 10, were in charge of watching Carson and Connor.

While Rachel was cleaning Reggie up, Carson and Connor started opening up suitcases and dumping the clothing onto the floor.  From the various accounts, this is what had happened next:

Rachel’s colorful swimsuit had caught their eye right away.  It reminded them of a parachute, so Carson put his arms into the shoulder straps, wearing the swimsuit like a backpack.  With the bathing suit hanging off his back, he climbed up onto a night stand which Connor had pushed directly underneath the hotel room’s television.  The t.v. was hanging from the ceiling on a mounting bracket, and there was a conveniently located support arm upon which Connor hooked the crotch of the swimsuit.

With his “parachute” attached to the wall, Carson jumped off the nightstand and hung off the television mount, pretending to glide through the clouds.  He and Connor switched places, each getting in about three jumps until the shoulder straps on Rachel’s new swimsuit snapped, making it un-wearable.

But how could this have happened?  Where were Aaron and Steven through all of this?  Couldn’t they have stopped Carson and Connor from emptying the luggage and ruining Rachel’s bathing suit?  Aaron and Steven were there, in the same room, but they had been distracted while watching the same television that the twins were jumping under.

Rachel had tried the torn suit on, but it would not stay up, so a new suit was needed.

“Did the hotel guy tell you about a place to buy me a swimsuit?” Rachel asked.

“He said there are some in the lobby gift shop,” Mom replied.  “There are more a few blocks away.”

“We can check this one first, and then see what are in the other stores…” Rachel began.

“Wait a minute,” her mom interrupted.   “This is supposed to be my vacation, too.  Let’s just get you a suit here and hit the pool. Deal?”

“But Mom, I don’t want to look stupid in some lame bathing suit!” Rachel pouted.

Her mother eyed her with her “Mom Eyes.”

“You can find a suit here or you can swim in your underwear.  At this point, I’ve been up since 5 a.m. and I just want to relax.  I don’t have the patience, Rachel.”

“Okay,” Rachel surrendered.  “Let’s look.”

The two walked over to the gift shop and quickly found a small rack of swim suits.  There were only three styles of swim suits that would fit Rachel, and they were all two-pieces.  Two were string bikinis, and one was a short surf shirt with board shorts.

“Those won’t work,” her mom said.  “No two-piece.”

“Mom, you said that I had to find a suit here.  That or swim in my underwear,” Rachel argued.  “And my underwear technically qualifies as a two-piece bathing suit.”

Now Rachel’s mom pouted, but she knew that her own words were being used against her.

“Fine, you can try it on, but it needs to cover most of your tummy or no deal.”

“Okay,” Rachel yelled as she ran to the fitting room.

The fitting went well, and Rachel’s mom agreed that the swim suit was as modest as a two-piece could be.  The top was basically a shirt, and the bottoms were shorts.  Rachel left the suit on, collected her clothing in a bag, and they paid for the suit.  Rachel had a little bit of spring in her step as they climbed the stairs to their room.

“What do you think Dad will say about the suit?” Rachel asked as they entered the room.

They both stopped dead in their tracks as they eyed the commotion taking place in the hotel room.

Carson and Connor were still jumping off of the nightstand, though this time without a “parachute.” Reggie was sitting in front of the hotel room’s mini-fridge, and had eaten what appeared to be 6 candy bars, a jar of peanuts, and four cans of soda pop; Aaron and Steven were distracted by whatever was showing on the television; and Rachel’s dad was passed out asleep in a chair.  No one looked up to see that Rachel and Mom had come in.

Sighing, Mom walked across the room to a suitcase.  She opened it up, took out her own bathing suit, and exited the room.  She motioned, silently, for Rachel to follow her out of the room, so Rachel dumped her clothes inside the door, shut it, and chased after her mom.

“What do I think your Dad will say about your swim suit?” Mom said.  “He probably won’t even notice.”

“Mom!” Rachel called out.  “Where are we going?”

“The pool,” she replied.  “Let’s get this vacation started.”

The Adventure Continues in

The Pirate Bride

by Ryan & Anna McKinley, with beautiful illustrations by Jerry Bennett.

Available now by clicking here!


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